Growing out of the chaos of a global war, the city of Utopia is populated by humans and bioroids (artificial humans). On the surface, everything is harmonious, but tensions lurk. Into this seemingly perfect society comes a survivor of the wars, Deunan Knute, who carries a legacy that will turn out to be of critical importance to the future of humanity.
Appleseed (AS) tells the story of Deunan and Briaeros, mates on the battlefield. The story revolves around battles, mechas, utopian philosophy and some romance. You will also know about Bioroids, which are cloned humans, but with distinct identities.
--> Animation: (10/10)
Really, earning a 10 from me is tough, but Appleseed really amazed me in terms of sheer graphic quality. It's a perfect blend of traditional animation, coupled with very well made CG. The backgrounds and environments are extremely detailed and well done. The same quality can be found in the character designs. Just see how detailed Deunan's hair is, or how the general mechas are
done. At one point, you see Deunan resting on a bed. As she drops, you can even see the bed sheets crumpling in very realistic ways. Or the various water and nature scenes, specially rain. They are truly magnificent. AS's animation really deserves applause.
--> Sound: (8/10)
Not much to say here, since the music score of AS is not really that varied. The action scenes have their BGM and I can say these were well selected. They really highlight the action. Dramatic scenes too have their appropriate music, and here too, it's ok. Not much to say, nothing bad, nothing absolutely noticeable. Character voices are well done. However, Deunan's voice is kind of too "feminine". Ok, I know she's a girl, but still, after seeing her fight? I'd put a graver voice on her. xD
--> Story: (9/10)
The story too is really awesome. The plot is consistent, and has lots of twists and turns, until you are told of the final secret, which you really don't expect. The plots flow smoothly, giving details as they flow, and not just flood you at the end. It's an interesting story, very sc-fi like, peppered with a good dose of action. You won't be bored watching it. Maybe at the beginning, when there is quite a lot of talking, but it does not last long. It's a nice story about humans, bioroids, how an utopia functions, how humans can be intolerant, and how the desire for total utopia can be bad. It has some subtle philosophy too, mind you! Overall, I liked.
--> Characters: (7/10)
Maybe, this is the only point AS deceived me a bit. The characters themselves are interesting to follow, and learn about. Their stories and backgrounds are very plausible. But what I didn't appreciate is Deunan and Briaeros hogging all the screen time. They are present in almost every scene! What about the side characters? In my opinion, they didn't get developed enough. We could have been given more details about their lives and backgrounds. Consider Hitomi. At the end, we still don't know much about her. About her life after work, her relationships and stuff, even if she's the secondary female lead! Even the main characters Deunan and Briaeros didn't get that much of elaboration. The developers of AS should have included a bit more of character elaboration.
--> Enjoyment: (8/10)
It's not really a light film to just sit there and enjoy. Barely any humor in it. The enjoyment comes from the great storyline and the well-made action scenes. I, personally, really enjoyed it. AS also has a good rewatch value. I have rewatched it 3 times, just for the battle scenes and the story.
--> Outro (Overall: 8/10):
AS makes a good story, combined with well-made animation and ok-type characters. Therefore, it makes a good watch. Go check it out, you will probably not regret it.
I was told this was cyberpunk and expect a dark film. Just reading about it, it would appear that the film is spot on in earning a post-cyberpunk moniker. Perverted uptopia? Check. Mecha/Human enhancements? Check. Violence? Check. Electronic soundtrack? Check. Rainy/depressing environments? Check.
The beginning of the film lives up to these expectations, as well. It opens with a random battle that sets a mood the rest of the movie doesn't follow. Appleseed is too happy, too shallow, too cheesy, and too dull to be considered cyberpunk. The story is very shallow and predictable. Plot twists are figured out long before they are
revealed. The artwork is merely mediocre. I'm not necessarily biased against their choice of making everything 3D, but it doesn't really compare to the handdrawn awesomeness mixed with 3D goodness that is Ghost in the Shell, a series many compare Appleseed to.
The soundtrack is laughably cheesy. The original, "orchestral" compositions are pitiful and sound like they were done in Fruity Loops. The music brought in from popular electronic artists is a lot better, but frequently doesn't fit the mood of the visuals. Sound effects were brilliant, however.
I kept expecting the movie to get better, but the ending isn't really any better than the beginning.
Others have mentioned this is indeed lighter fare, but the action sequences make it worth watching as a mindless action flick. I'm confused, however, because the action is quite brief and downplayed. What is present is talking, and lots of it. They talk so much, but the plot is still so simple. What gives?
In short, don't watch this movie expecting to be sucked into a dark, cyberpunk world with a brilliant story. Don't watch this movie expecting to be dazzled by 3D animation. Don't watch this movie for the fight sequences.
- Great sound effects
- Cool electronic music
- Some intense, wince-inducing hand-to-hand combat
- Beautiful cityscapes
- Shallow, predictable, boring story
- Shallow, under-developed characters
- Not enough action, too much talking
- Music rarely fit the mood of the scene
- Too happy for "cyberpunk"
- 3D animation doesn't fit the characters very well
The plot wasn't all bad. The internal conflict was a particularly fascinating thing, particularly when you find out who the real enemy is. And the idea that a peaceful society is really a cage may be used a lot, but is still interesting in its own way. However, for people like myself who haven't read the manga beforehand, the history of this distopian universe might be difficult to comprehend, thus decreasing any real enjoyment plot-wise, as you're left wondering "why?" the whole time. All you get is that some global war is going on, and then "bam!" suddenly this "utopia" comes into play, and
the previous fighting doesn't mean a thing.
One thing I can definitely agree to is that Appleseed has some truly fantastic animation. Even if it possessed nothing else, that the art is spectacular is something nobody can deny. The opening sequence was especially eye-catching, with the distopian city design.
Being something of a dance music fan, I loved the soundtrack to the movie. Basement Jaxx, Boom Boom Satellites and Paul Oakenfold's work gave me something new to add to my rapidly growing iTunes playlist, and I'm a particular fan of the songs "Good Luck" and "Burns Attack." They all seemed to tie in well with the scene in which they appeared also.
Kinda bland, I have to say. They replace character depth with lots of action, and the writers seemed more interested in displaying Deunan's "kick-assery" rather than her personality. There wasn't as much insight into Deunan and Briareos' relationship as I believe there should've been, and while there was obviously some tension due to Briareos' being a cyborg, I still thought that particular aspect could've been portrayed better. Uranus and Hades were interesting in their dislike for bioroids, and Hitomi was a curious choice for Deunan's "best friend." Otherwise, the stage goes entirely to the Elders, and the choices they made.
Okay, so, Appleseed is nothing spectacular. Shiny fight scenes, boppy music and pretty animation sequences make it worth the watch for some like myself, though if you're looking for intricate plot and detailed characters it may be best to divert elsewhere.
The 2004 remake of the Appleseed story is a watchable affair, but one that seemingly increases the flaws of the original 1988 release while also detracting from its strengths.
Appleseed once again benefits from a strong female lead, one not afraid to kickass, and one not sexualized. Deunan is picked up by members of E.S.W.A.T, an elite special ops unit, and is immediately entrusted with a lot of the most vital secret of Utopia, an attempted, get this, utopian human city. This city is home to a population made up half of human, and half of Bioroids, genetically manufactured being with suppressed emotional states, designed
to keep the peace.
However, unlike the 1988 version, which set up a largely morally ambiguous conflict, this 2004 version is much more black and white, and it's of detriment to the film. The human uprising perpetrated by the army is one less of legitimate grievances, considering the role humans have in government is substantial this time, and more of a direct power grab. Deunan and her allies stand in the way of the bad guys, as they try to maintain a level of stability in Utopia.
Here's the problem with Appelseed 2004; it attempts to layer on even more subplots than the original, without really explaining any of them. There is quite a lot going on here; a council of elders overseeing the city hand in hand with a giant computer, a quasi-double-triple-cross by Deunan's partner in arms, Briareos. A familial twist with Deunan, and some cruelties committed against her by the very people she is now up against. It all comes too fast and too often, and each plot development is rarely explored nor has its significance justified.
This film also suffers from some pretty cheesy, elementary moralizing speeches, that attempt to convey relevance and importance but essentially end up very pedestrian. The exposition in this film leaves a lot left to be desired, because it rarely focuses on what you want to know, instead delivering heavy-handed explanations of things the viewer probably has already realized.
The Deunan and Briareos relationship is sorely underutilized. Former lovers, Briareos is now mostly machine on the outside due to injuries sustained in battle, but still retains his personality and "humanity." While it would have been cliché, exploring whether or not Deunan's romantic interest could exist with a man that looks more machine now could have been fairly compelling. Sadly, it's never really explored.
All of this combined with plot twists that are predictable, and a very typical - especially to sci-fi - main villain, leaves you feeling like this movie is wasted potential. Still, the main protagonists are solid enough characters to stand on their own, Deunan and Athena the prime minister, in particular. And when the script is not handing them some cheesy speeches, it manages to convey their desperation and struggle well.
The 3D animation is also solid if unspectacular, much like the voice acting and soundtrack. It all helps to lend to my belief that the film as a whole is solid, if unspectacular. The Appleseed universe is a very compelling one, and there's a lot of good moral conflict to explore. Sadly, this film does not really do that.
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